Lobbying loophole lets former public servants circumvent two-year ban

B.C.'s office of the registrar of lobbyists has urgently called on government to address the issue

B.C.’s lobbying watchdog says a loophole in provincial legislation allows individuals formerly employed by current cabinet ministers to circumvent lobbying prohibition and declaration rules.

In an August 1 letter to Attorney General David Eby, the office of the registrar of lobbyists – the legislature’s independent lobbying oversight office – called on government to urgently close the loophole by amending the definition of a former public office holder.

The role is currently defined as an individual formerly employed by a former member of cabinet – a definition that does not include individuals formerly employed by a current member of cabinet.

In his letter, registrar of lobbyists Michael McEnvoy noted two recent instances where the rules of the Lobbyists Registration Act could not be applied. One lobbyist was not subject to B.C.’s two-year lobbying ban because the member she previously worked for is still in office. Another was found to have no obligation to declare his past government connections.

McEnvoy wrote he was confident the error was unintended, and has requested it be changed.

In an issued response, Eby said he has instructed staff to include an amendment as part of broader lobbying legislation reform scheduled to be introduced this fall.   

“Decisions released today by the registrar of lobbyists will have immediate and negative consequences for the regulation of lobbying activities in B.C.,” said Eby.

He also noted that the error had gone undetected for eight years.